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Kelvin Fletcher makes Strictly history despite just days of preparation

Oti Mabuse and Kelvin Fletcher during Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)
Oti Mabuse and Kelvin Fletcher during Strictly Come Dancing (Guy Levy/BBC/PA)

Kelvin Fletcher wowed the judges on Strictly Come Dancing and made history, despite only stepping in at the last minute.

There were high scores and much praise from the judges in the opening week of the BBC show, with top quality first performances from many of the celebrities.

Fletcher replaced Made In Chelsea star Jamie Laing after he suffered an injury ahead of the first live show.

Despite limited time to train, Fletcher and partner Oti Mabuse claimed top spot on the leaderboard with their debut dance.

Strictly Come Dancing 2019
The Strictly judges were impressed with many of the first dances (Kieron McCarron/BBC)

Motsi Mabuse got her first chance to judge her sister when the pair performed.

Casting a critical eye over the steps of her sibling, the show’s new judge was full of praise – as were the other panellists – for the couple’s samba to La Vida Es Un Carnaval by Celia Cruz.

She said: “Kelvin. Are we not happy you stepped in. You have good assets.

“I’m talking about that ooziness in your body. That was so rhythmical.

“That was so fun to watch. I enjoyed that, I loved that.”

The Emmerdale star earned a score of 32, putting him top of the leaderboard with Mabuse.

According to presenter Claudia Winkleman, it is the highest score ever achieved on Strictly for a first dance.

Fletcher said: “That is the scariest thing I’ve ever done. I could cry.”

Karim Zeroual was quick to show his skills with partner Amy Dowden, earning a score of 31 and taking second place on the leaderboard.

The CBBC star, named as the favourite to win the show, was left teary-eyed by the praise of judges following his cha cha cha to If I Can’t Have You by Shawn Mendes.

He said: “I’m welling up, I cried. I never cry. I’m literally blown away, over the moon.”

In joint third on 30 points were Michelle Visage and partner Giovanni Pernice, along with BBC DJ Dev Griffin and Dianne Buswell.

In fourth place were Saffron Barker and AJ Pritchard with 27.

The social media star said of her professional partner: “All I wanted to do was make him proud.”

Paralympian Will Bayley gave an inspirational performance to earn 26 points with partner Janette Manrara. His display earned the couple a standing ovation.

Bruno Tonioli said: “You worked hard, you worked hard and it showed.”

EastEnders star Emma Barton earned 23 points with Anton Du Beke.

Mike Bushell gave an energetic performance with Katya Jones which surprised the judges and many in the audience, earning a score of 22 and praise for his abilities.

Shirley Ballas said the BBC presenter already had skills “from week eight”.

Football star Alex Scott, who kicked off the show with Neil Jones, got a score of 21.

Catherine Tyldesley and Johannes Radebe won 20 points, with the actress given encouragement after the waltz.

Viscountess Emma Weymouth and Aljaz Skorjanec were also given hope after earning 19 and friendly advice from the judging panel.

Former England goalkeeper David James was given 17 points for his efforts with Nadiya Bychkova.

Anneka Rice got 14 with last year’s winner Kevin Clifton.

Comedian Chris Ramsey failed to impress in his first week, and was given 13 with partner Karen Hauer.

But in bottom place after the first live Strictly show was Olympic gold medal-winner James Cracknell.

The athlete got just 11 in his attempt at the tango.

Scores will be added to those from the next instalment of Strictly, when the public will be able to vote.

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